Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

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August 29, 2013

McGinnis, attorney testify


Knoxville —

Phelps testified that he did not feel the testimony of the State's doctor was the trigger in the jury's decision to convict McGinnis. Judge Brad McCall asked Phelps what Phelps thought was the cause. 

"I think it was Mr. McGinnis' demeanor throughout the trial," Phelps said. "I don't think he smiled once."

He believes the jury is convinced someone is dangerous when he or she is not allowed to leave the courtroom and roam the halls. 

"There was nothing we could do about it. We worked and we tried," Phelps said. 

Phelps believes he gave McGinnis' defense a good effort.

"You never know if you did the best job," Phelps said. "We used what we had and we did not prevail."

McGinnis said he has been dealing with PTSD since 1996. It stems from his military service in Panama and the Persian Gulf. He describes his symptoms as being hyper vigilant and having an inability to trust others, and that he has no memories during his flashbacks.

While McGinnis could not remember the incidents, he said he was told that during his time in the Marion County Jail, he had two flashbacks. At one point, he was behind a stairway, convinced it was a cave. In another incident, he approached another prisoner's cell with the intent to kill him. 

McGinnis does not remember what happened on Sept. 21, 2008, the day he shot Rob Ohl. He said he told Phelps on a number of occasions whom Phelps should have had testify, but these people were not contacted. A request was made to bring an independent PTSD expert, based in Wisconsin, to the trial. However, the state denied this request for funds to pay for this. 

A portion of the basis for McGinnis' application for post-conviction relief was that Phelps would not let McGinnis testify. Phelps admitted that he thought having McGinnis testify would have been risky, but the decision was left to McGinnis.

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